Hamad Dalmouk, Workforce and Compensation Director at Qatar Foundation’s Human Capital department, explains how preparation and adaptability has, for the past year, enabled the organization to remain resilient, and learn, amid the pandemic.
Almost one year ago, as the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Qatar Foundation (QF) requested all its 3,500-plus employees to begin working remotely. In the beginning, it was challenging to think that our employees would now have to work from home. But COVID-19 forced many organizations to adopt new ways of working as an emergency measure to continue their operations, and QF was among the first in Qatar to switch to remote working.
It was a moment to lead by example, through bold and decisive action to safeguard our community
At first, we didn’t know how long we would have to deal with the uncertainty and ambiguity of the situation. But once a few weeks passed, we realized that we had what it takes to manage the situation with agility and resilience, while ensuring the health and safety of our employees was – as always – our priority. And as the one-year anniversary of lockdown arrives, it’s an appropriate time to reflect on what we did, and what we have learned from it.
As an organization, we have taken measured and careful steps designed to reduce the risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19, in order to protect our staff, faculty, students, visitors, and community. And we realized that QF has an opportunity to lead. By acting before being mandated to do so, and by demonstrating that the readiness measures we already had in place had made us more resilient and able to minimize disruption, we were helping to fulfill QF’s reason for being. It was a moment to lead by example, through bold and decisive action to safeguard our community.
As the pandemic has unfolded, we have realized that it creates the perfect timing for changing our working culture even further
One of the first measures we took was setting up a Human Capital (HC) telephone helpline, which was launched as part of HC Crisis Response activation. We realized that our employees may be vulnerable, and that we needed to support them at every level: their physical health, their emotional health, and their mental health. Special cases of employees affected by the COVID-19 situation continue to be identified and addressed right through to today.
As the pandemic has unfolded, we have realized that it creates the perfect timing for changing our working culture even further. Over the past 25 years, QF has already been bringing in changes and reforms designed to empower our employees to embrace a flexible working culture and to continue reinventing the workplace. Now more than ever, our priority is to create a new ecosystem focused on new mindsets and behaviors, embedding technology, and reinforcing teams’ capabilities to embrace new ways of working.
The health and well-being of our staff remains paramount, and we are always encouraging our leaders to lead with empathy and trust to ensure productivity and to respect employees' work-life balance
We are currently working on the approach of normalizing remote work, especially for certain roles where we faced challenges in recruiting from overseas due to travel restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic. In establishing a blended learning environment, the pandemic helped us to push our boundaries and enhance our ability to convert face-to-face learning activities to complete or partial online services, which represented an addition to our e-learning services. This was aimed at providing more flexible learning opportunities to our employees, along with placing the learners at the center of learning. The health and well-being of our staff remains paramount, and we are always encouraging our leaders to lead with empathy and trust to ensure productivity and to respect employees' work-life balance.
When we conducted a remote working survey, it confirmed that, at QF, we had the necessary structure and maturity to not only be resilient in the way we operate amid these critical times, but also emerge as a leader in Qatar in terms of the way we have adapted to a new environment and a new normal. The survey results showed that the majority of our employees have adjusted quickly to the new ways of working and feel well-supported by QF to work remotely.
As the world continues to deal with COVID-19, QF is showing how preparation makes it possible to overcome any challenge – and how, by thinking ahead of the curve, we are contributing to maintaining Qatar’s resilience in the face of circumstances that are unique to the nation.
Hamad F. Dalmouk is QF Human Capital’s Workforce and Compensation Director, and has more than 12 years of experience within the Human Resources field, including HR administration, talent acquisition, national development, employee relations, workforce planning and organizational design.